Thursday, May 10: 10am - THEY had promised a 'political earthquake' – but only in their wildest dreams can the Boston Bypass Independents have imagined starting a landslide like this.
In surely the most dramatic election the borough has ever seen, Coun Richard Austin's party of political novices surged into power in last Thursday's elections, taking 25 of Boston Borough Council's 32 seats to become the first party ever to take overall control of the council since the brough was formed in1972.
The previous administration was simply swept aside, with leader of the council Mary Wright and mayor-elect Shaun Forster the most high-profile of the 21 ousted councillors.
A jubilant Coun Austin, already a member of Lincolnshire County Council, said: "This result makes political history – a brand new political party, a few months old, has taken over the borough in a landslide victory.
"Our borough is no longer prepared to be ignored. This astonishing victory for the Boston Bypass Independents is only the first step on the road to recovery, for regeneration, and for that long, long-awaited bypass."
The public's rejection of the old regime was damning – overnight, Boston's political landscape changed completely, with traditional party politics effectively wiped out in the borough.
Every Labour and Liberal Democrat councillor lost their seat, while only three of the incumbent Conservatives managed to cling to power – and one of those only by a single vote.
Coun Anne Dorrian, the
long-time bypass campaigner and newly-elected BBI councillor for Skirbeck ward, said of the previous regime: "They've
mis-managed the town on so many issues – not just the traffic – and now the people of Boston have wholeheartedly rejected them."
The chance to vote for a new party seems to have captured the public's imagination, with the turn-out of 36.9 per cent a massive improvement on 2003's 28 per cent.
Many of the defeated candidates claimed people had been 'misled' into believing that voting for the BBI would automatically mean a bypass for Boston – and, indeed, one new BBI councillor, Sheila Newell, claimed afterwards that the party now expects a new road 'probably in six or seven years'.
Coun Austin, however, was more reserved in his outlook.
"There was never a promise that a bypass is coming – that's out of our hands," he said. "We're in the business of changing political will – that's all we can do. We'll be approaching all the politicians who matter, and hopefully they'll take notice of what's happening here. They all claim to be listening, and now the people of Boston have spoken."